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Make it Fly

Science Museum Group

How to make paper aeroplanes, helicopters and gliders! 🚁 ✈️

Investigate the forces involved in how planes fly by making your own and testing them out.

This activity shows how a paper aeroplane, glider or helicopter falls to the ground much more slowly and gracefully than a scrunched-up piece of paper. It’s all thanks to the forces generated by air pressing on, and moving over, the surface of the paper.

Check out the Wonderlab+ website for more fun activities!

The science behind it…

Gravity pulls everything downwards. But as they move towards the ground, the wings of the aeroplane, the wings of the glider and the blades of the helicopter create higher air pressure underneath than on top. This creates a lift force that counteracts some of gravity’s pull and makes them fall more slowly. 

Moving through air also creates a kind of friction called air resistance, or ‘drag’, which tends to slow down anything moving through the air. 

Information for adults

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